Identity Thief in 1836?
Historical research has
significantly improved during the past several years with the advent of
high-speed Internet access. Much
information regarding Texas
history can be found on-line. At least
10 manuscripts of survivors of the Massacre of Goliad can be found on-line. The
manuscript of survivor, Dillard Cooper, describes his harrowing escape along
with three other individuals: Zachariah S. Brooks, Wilson Simpson, and Isaac
Hamilton. While researching Zachariah Brooks I discovered that he had a
brother, George W. Brooks, who also escaped the Massacre. Using research tools available on the
Internet, I discovered that there were two individuals claiming to be George W.
Brooks. They will be identified as:
George Whitfield Brooks of
George W. Brooks of
Both men claim service in the
Army of the Republic
of Texas. In researching the background of George W.
Brooks of DeWitt County (GWB-DW), I came across documents which lead me to
believe that George Whitfield Brooks of Montgomery County (GWB-M) may have
filed a false pension application and false land bounty claims. It also appears that historians have
incorrectly identified him (GWB-M) as serving with Colonel James Fannin at
The saying, “guilty by
association,” will help in separating them and attaching their correct service
to the Texas
Republic. This discussion is necessarily confusing
because we have two individuals claiming the same name and same service to the Republic of
George Whitfield Brooks will be associated with his brother, Milton
George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) will be
associated with his wife, Eliza Ann, and his brother, Zachariah S. Brooks. Zachariah S. Brooks is a well documented and
an unquestionable survivor of the Massacre of Goliad. Both George W. and his brother, Zachariah S.
Brooks, were members of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s
Company, the Alabama Red Rovers.
Let’s start with Whitfield
Brooks, also know as George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M). Census data and his pension claim indicate
that he was born on May 25, 1824. Census data indicates that both he and his
brother, Milton, were born in South
The 1850, 1860, and 1870 Census
of Washington County, Texas provides information regarding George Whitfield
The 1850 Census of Montgomery
shows a “Whitfield Brooks,” age 28, who was born in
South Carolina. His age suggests that he was born in 1822. His wife is shown as Elizabeth,
age 25, and born in Alabama. No children are shown of this marriage. Interestingly, Milton Brooks (Whitfield’s
apparent brother), is listed directly above Whitfield Brooks (Line 27). Milton
indicates that he, also, was from South
The 1860 Census of Montgomery
shows a Geo. W. Brooks (GWB-M), age 32, and born in North Carolina. His age suggests that he was born in 1828. His
wife is shown as Susan, age 23, and born in North Carolina. Three children are shown in the household.
The 1870 Census of Montgomery
shows a Geo. W. Brooks (GWB-M), age 46, and born in
South Carolina. His age suggests that he was born in
1824. His wife is shown as Susan; age 23
(probably should be 33). She indicates
that she was born in Texas. On the next page, (Pg 24), line 1, is an 8
month old child named Whitfield Brooks.
The pension application of George
Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) provides contradictory information regarding this
individual. His claim, submitted
November, 1870, was filed in Washington
County which tends to
confirm the census data previously discussed.
He indicates that he enlisted in the Army of the Republic on December
12, 1835. This, coincidently, is the
same date that the George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) claims that he enlisted. GWB-M indicates that he was discharged March
10th, 1836. This, again, is
the date that GWB-DW claims that he was discharged. It is worth noting that Colonel James Fannin
was captured March 20, 1836 and executed March 27, 1836. The donation of
George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) indicates that he “was in advance guard with Col.
Horton on March 19, 1836” during the period of Colonel Fannin’s ordeal. The
name on the donation is very clear – “George W. Brooks” – not “George Whitfield
On his pension application, George
Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) indicates that he has “lived in Texas” from birth which is contradictory to
the census data above. The census data
indicates that GWB-M was born in South
pension application (GWB-M) indicates that he was born on May 25, 1824. This date is confirmed by the census data
above. Based on this birth date, his age
at the time Colonel James Fannin was captured would have been 11 years of
age. The pension application makes no mention of
being a member of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s Company, the
Alabama Red Rovers.
Because of the age of this
individual, it seems doubtful that this George Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) was at
Goliad and, consequently, could not have participated in the Texas
Ms. Kathryn Stoner O’Conner,
author of “Presidio La Bahia”, in her treatise of the massacre identifies
George Whitfield Brooks as a participant of the Battle of Goliad. Page 110 indicates that George Whitfield
Brooks was “in advance guard with Col Horton on March 19, 1836” during the Goliad
Massacre. She did not verify the name
shown on the 1838 donation as being that of George W. Brooks, not George
Now, let’s examine George W.
Brooks (GWB-DW). It should be noted that
Brooks' family tradition suggests that the “W” is an abbreviation for “Washington”. No proof of “Washington” has been found.
Census data consistently indicate
that George W. Brooks (GWB-DW) was born in 1808 in Virginia.
He married Eliza Ann Clayton on April 19, 1831 in
Jefferson County, Mississippi. Both George W. (GWB-DW) and Eliza Ann are
listed in Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300” arriving
in Texas on
May, 1831. This data can be found in
Volume 1, Pg 103. He indicated that his
age was 23 and Eliza Ann’s age was 16.
They arrived from Mississippi. George W. Brooks will later indicate that he
was at the Battle of Velasco on
26 June 1832 along with Colonel William B. Travis. Somewhere between 1832 and 1835, George
W. and Eliza Ann went back to Alabama,
returning to Texas in August, 1835 and are,
again, listed in Austin’s
“Old 300” (Volume 2, Pg 41). In the 1835
entry, W. B. Travis serves as his agent and pays his “fees”.
“The Index to MILITARY ROLLS
of the REPUBLIC of TEXAS 1835 – 1845”
indicates that among the members of Capt. Jack Shackelford’s
Company, the Alabama Red Rovers were George W. Brooks and Zachariah S.
Brooks. The Index indicates that
Zachariah S. Brooks escapes the massacre and that George W. Brooks having “been in advance
guard with Col. Horton on March 19, 1836”. Another significant indication of George W. Brooks (GWB-DW)’s
presence at Goliad is found in his pension
application. It has an attachment indicating that Zachariah S. Brooks was his
brother. This is perhaps the most convincing
indication that George Whitfield Brooks was NOT present at Goliad. No association with George
Whitfield Brooks (GWB-M) can be found.
The survival account of Dillard
clearly indicates that Zachariah S. Brooks was with him during the foray and
The 1850 Census of Montgomery
shows George W. Brooks (GWB-DW), age 43, and born in
His wife, Eliza Ann, is also shown in the 1850 Census of Montgomery
County (Line 39). Her age appears to be
30. They are shown with eight children
all of whom were born in Texas. One of their sons was Beverly Baker Brooks. Another son is shown as George W., Jr.
Since both GWB-M and GWB-DW
appear in the 1850 census of Montgomery
County, perhaps GWB-M and
GWB-DW knew each other and shared backgrounds and experiences.
The 1860 Census of DeWitt County
shows Geo. W. Brooks, age 52, born in Virginia. His wife, Eliza Ann, is shown on the
following line, age 45, born in Louisiana. Six children are shown. One child, Beverly Baker Brooks, is married
to Eliza (Ann Ainsworth). She has a
child, Creed Taylor, by a previous marriage.
The 1870 Census of DeWitt County
shows Geo. W. Brooks, age 62, born in Virginia. His first wife, Eliza Ann, dies in 1861, and
he marries Rachel Ann Rhode. Rachel is
shown in this census, age 29, born in Mississippi.
The 1880 Census of DeWitt County
shows George W. Brooks, age 72, born in
Virginia. His second wife, Rachel, is shown, age 38,
born in Mississippi.
These are the facts of two different
individuals claiming to be George W. Brooks, both claiming to be survivors of
the Massacre of Goliad. Since the
Massacre of Goliad occurred about 175 years ago, much has been published
regarding the survivors and, obviously, cannot be “unpublished”. The data presented in this historical review
of the Massacre of Goliad was obtained from various sources available “on-line”
using the Internet.